July 3, 2021

“Based on preliminary structural assessment, Staff believes the substructure at Brett’s Waterway Café has surpassed its useful life and could suffer significant damage during a hurricane or other high wind event.”

In a notice to Fernandina Beach City Commissioners, City Attorney Tammi Bach wrote, “No notice can be posted in this case because no immediate threat to life and safety. See 1985 Unsafe Building Abatement Code, Chapter 3. This is not a notice to vacate. The attached notice will be mailed and hand delivered to Centre Street Restaurant Group.”

The following notice is signed by  Charles George, PE City Engineer, and was delivered to the leaseholder, Center Street Restaurant Group.

Notice of Unsafe Building and Intent to Condemn

Ref: Brett’s Waterway Cafe
1 Front Street, Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Parcel # 00-00-31-1760-0025-001L
PT OF LOT 25 “25-1L” UNR LEASE DATED 1-1-1997

The structure located on the above-referenced property has been declared unsafe by the City building official and City engineer pursuant to Chapter 22, section 26 of the City of Fernandina Beach Code of Ordinances. A summary report documenting the conditions determined to have rendered the building unsafe under the provisions of the City of Fernandina Beach Code are as follows:

Visual observations indicate numerous deficiencies observed: active collapse of a concrete double-tee substructure member. Based on preliminary structural assessment, Staff believes the substructure at Brett’s Waterway Café has surpassed its useful life and could suffer significant damage during a hurricane or other high wind event. Due to the elevated risk of substructure failure, collateral damage and repairs necessary, City staff believes that the deteriorating structure condition is a potential life-safety risk to the public, to continue to occupy this structure. *A full and complete copy of the engineer’s report and findings may be obtained from the City Clerk’s Office: 204 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034. Phone: 904.310.3115

The following actions are required to be commenced or completed by the dates and times specified below:

FL 32034 www.M.us All necessary permits shall be secured, and the work commenced within sixty (60) days of the date of this notice. If repairs are not commenced within sixty (60) days, the structure must be vacated on or before September 2, 2021.

If the required actions above are not completed by September 2, 2021, the property will be ordered vacated and posted by the building official, or his designee, to prevent further occupancy until the work is completed and the building official, or his designee, may cause the work to be done and all costs incurred charged against the property or owner of record.

Any person entitled to service in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 3 of the 1985 Standard Unsafe Building Abatement Code may appeal any action of the building official, or his designee, under this code to the Code Enforcement and Appeals Board. Such appeal must be filed in writing with the building official, or his designee, within thirty (30) days from the date of service and must contain at least the following information:

1. Identification of the building or structure concerned by street address or legal description.
2. A statement identifying the legal interest of each appellant.
3. A statement identifying the specific order or section being appealed.
4. A statement detailing the issues on which the appellant desires to be heard.
5. The legal signature of all appellants and their official mailing address.

Charles George, PE
City Engineer
Office: 904-.310.3420
Email: cgeorge@fbfl.org

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John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_61488)
1 year ago

Stay tuned.

More to come. Much more.

Betsie Huben
Betsie Huben (@guest_61489)
1 year ago

This is a city asset which, in my pea brain, means the city/taxpayers own it and have had it leased it out to the Centre Street Restaurant Group for as long as I have lived here. The responsibility for management of any city asset sits squarely with the City of Fernandina Beach. Like the beach walkovers, a city asset has been left to founder. How is this even possible?

Marlene Chapman
Marlene Chapman (@guest_61491)
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsie Huben

We’ve heard of the issues with Brett’s for years and years yet all that’s happened is a bit of paint which in this case, in my opinion, is like putting lipstick on a pig. One thing our city us great about is neglecting the buildings we own and are responsible for. Its all disgraceful and negligent! Does this step have anything to do with the condo collapse in Miami? A wake up call perhaps? Trying to cover our a___s perhaps?

Susan Steger
Susan Steger(@co-editor-2)
1 year ago

It has nothing to do with the condo collapse. The inspection took place before the collapse. You are assuming the City is responsible for the entire support structure. That is not true.

Randy McGee
Randy McGee (@guest_61494)
1 year ago

one way for the city to break a lease…… wonder who will end up with the property..

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_61496)
1 year ago

I’m having trouble navigating the City web site and can’t locate a copy of Brett’s lease. Here’s what confuses me.

Center Street Restaurant Group (Brett’s) appears to be a lessee (tenant) with no ownership rights in the property.

Isn’t the property owner (City) usually responsible for the maintenance of (City-owned) land and underlying building structures while the lessee/tenant “may” be permitted to “improve” those structures, with no ownership rights on those improvements?

If the tenant adds plumbing, electrical or decorative flooring, they can’t rip it out at the end of the lease. On the other hand, in what world is an apartment renter/tenant required to re-build the landlord’s building foundation or basement garage at their own expense?

It appears that the City’s Notice is asking the Center Street Restaurant Group to repair/rebuild the neglected City-owned facilities. Is the Notice poorly written, or do the terms of the lease require the tenant to rebuild the landlord’s facilities, including the “foundation” and public areas outside the building they are leasing?

In some instances, if a landlord doesn’t maintain the building or common areas (provide a safe/healthy environment) the tenant may be able to break the lease and the landlord might be sued for the tenant’s lost income or relocation costs.

Stay tuned.

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_61497)
1 year ago

I’m in an inquisitive mindset tonight.

How far does the “unsafe structure” extend past the footprint of Brett’s restaurant building? Is the public boardwalk included or is that an independent structure?

If the “unsafe structure” is demolished, will the public still be able to access the docks at the south marina? Will boaters be able to walk to land? Does this affect refueling operations?

Just curious.

DAVID LOTT (@guest_61517)
1 year ago

Here are some key elements of the contract between the City and Centre Street Restaurant Group from this non-lawyer:

Contract effective Jan. 1, 1997

40 year term expires 12/1/2025

Section 3.1(c) clearly places the responsibility and costs on CSRG for the “…maintenance, repair and replacement of any and all improvements and structures now or hereafter…”

City retains responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the common areas outside the lease footprint. Hope this helps clear up some of the confusion and misinformation.

DAVID LOTT (@guest_61518)
1 year ago
Reply to  DAVID LOTT

As clarification since it is only about 28 years from 1/1/97 to 12/1/2025 and the term is states as 40 years, the 40 year term backdates to the “,,, the commencement of construction of marina improvements…” (Section 2.1)

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_61519)
1 year ago
Reply to  DAVID LOTT

Thanks for the contract synopsis. It will be interesting to see how CSRG interprets the words “improvements and structures”. No mention of “substructures” as referenced in the engineering report.

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